When I was asked several years ago by a friend if I wanted to join him on a cycling trip to France with a group of his friends I didn’t have to think very hard about the decision. Bicycles are connectors. They connect us with our world in a more complete way than our cars, they connect us to each other, and they connect us to the inner child we often lose touch with. Now I try to return to France every year to ride, and immerse myself in the food, culture, history, and scenery that is on offer there. It’s a time to connect with old friends, disconnect from the day to day, and re-awaken a long term love affair withthe bike...
When I decided to give myself a birthday present there wasn’t much question that there would be some sort of cycling involved. Those days with zero’s attached could be looked at as just another day, but in reality they carry more weight for us. This wouldn’t be my first trip to Europe with bikes involved, but this time around I wasn’t going to be wrenching on cross bikes, or watching my friends play in the mud. This trip was going to be food and fun based entirely, and I wanted to go somewhere that offered great riding, and options for off the bike exploring.
When I felt the pop in my knee I instinctively knew things weren’t likely to be the same in my athletic career. My first love was running, but my orthopedic surgeon told me that I should start thinking about something else...when he suggested swimming I cringed and asked “how about cycling?” and when he said “yes, but use low gears” my heart lifted. I’d grown up riding around the neighborhood on my trusty Schwinn, and for transportation through high school, but college and cars had intervened. An odd accident was what steered me back onto the life path I’m still on to this day.
When I began my cycling journey it was on a hand-me-down Schwinn convertible my sister had outgrown, and casually discarded in our barn. Something drew me to it, and the promise of greater mobility and freedom it offered. I taught myself by trial and error, no training wheels, and no parent pushing from behind, and soon discovered that the scrapes and bruises were well worth the cost.